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I decided that I needed a model of the Southern Railway Ms-4 2-8-2, which was based on the USRA heavy mikado.  Of course Lionel has done a USRA heavy, but it would require extensive re-detailing and die-cast is rather difficult to work with.  The Williams brass mike has a superior drive train, plus the ease of working with brass.  Trouble is, it's not exactly a USRA heavy.  As others on this forum have noted, while it's definitely not a light, the boiler is too skinny (both in the middle course and at the smokebox) and it's a little too long for a heavy.  However, I believe that with some judicious re-detailing it can be made into a reasonable approximation of the Ms-4.

Meet the donor engine, in its last days lettered for the UP:


Sorry, UP fans, the paint is gone.  It looks so nice this way, I kind of hate to change it:

As you can see I've already removed the headlight, bracket, and marker lights.  All will be replaced with different parts.  I've amassed a pile of detail parts by PSC, Stevenson, Wiseman, and Lionel that will transform the look of this well-built locomotive.  I'll post updates periodically as progress allows.


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I decided to start with the tender, as it will be a quicker job than the locomotive.  The Ms-4 tender was basically a stock USRA 10,000 gallon tender, as is the Williams model, to which they added a dog house flanked by walk boards, and over time an extended coal bunker.  I ended up cutting brass tube to get the curved shape of the raised bunker (after failing in my attempt to make them out of brass bar stock).  The dog house is a PSC D&RG K-27 kit (plastic!), modified to closer match my prototype.  The walk boards need to be cleaned up and painted, but the tender is more or less ready for the paint shop.



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Last edited by 49Lionel

Cool idea.  And shapeways is a great source for unsual parts - I've got a few I'll use here.  Don't tell anybody, but those coal boards aren't soldered.  With a good quality CA, I attached a brass gusset strip to the inside of the curved piece (flattened on the bottom), and then glued the piece to the inside of the bunker.  It's strong enough to be handled, and like you said with coal you'll never see inside.

With the tender ready for the paint shop, I decided to turn my attention to the front end.  The smokebox is about 10 scale inches too slim, but the anemic look is worsened by the oversized headlight, smokestack (probably to accommodate the Seuthe smoke unit), and those googly marker lights.  Even the headlight bracket was too big to re-use.  Here's the cleaned up smokebox front with the new parts ready to install:


Removing the stack was no easy task without a resistance soldering iron, but I got it off without dismantling the entire front end!  Here's the new stack in place:


I also removed the air compressor, which will be relocated, and cleared the area in preparation for the Worthington feedwater heater:


No turning back now!  There's a bit more deconstruction to do, and then parts will start to go back on.  All the while I'm consulting photos of Ms-4s, and in particular the one I'm modeling, 4813.  Until next time...


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